Explain This

Fandango is reporting that as of 11 am today, The Social Network ticket sales accounted for only 32% of the total. This doesn’t indicate an opening in the mid to high 20s, which is what I’ve been hearing over the last three or four days, but closer to the low 20s.

“If it was selling 50% to 60% of the total right now, we’d be looking at the mid to high 20s,” an analyst just told me. “But a lot of openings have been mild recently. Wall Street 2 only did $19 million or thereabouts, so I wouldn’t forecast too high a figure for Social Network — I’d pull back a bit.”

I know, I know — how can a movie with this much media hype and a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating be looking at a weekend tally of this size? Answer: the lowbrow sector is unsure, skeptical, holding back, a little intimidated, not sensing that “olly, olly, in come free” emotional commonality thing. I don’t mean to sound snide, but how else to explain a projection in the low 20s?

In Planet of the Earth terms, The Social Network is a movie about orangutans that was made by orangutans, and which is aimed at an orangutan and chimp audience. What Fandango is telling us is that so far the gorillas haven’t gotten on board.

  • Robert Cashill

    There were groans and giggles from my audience during the gutless and empty MONEY NEVER SLEEPS last night. Such a letdown. Its time at the top will be brief.

  • Indeed

    Could it have something to do with the fact that the majority of people don’t see the need to purchase tickets to the Facebook movie 2 days in advance?

  • Hunter Tremayne

    A movie about the media that everyone in the media has already seen, not doing well in advance sales? What a shock!

  • Floyd Thursby

    The trailer is uninspiring, and who wants to see a movie about spoiled Harvard brats?

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Hunter Tremayne: All you do is throw shitballs around and piss on this movie, and as far as I can recall you haven’t seen it. (If you have then that’s a different story.) You’re just trolling. You and Floyd Thursby both. Tell me why I shouldn’t bounce both your asses right now.

  • dogcatcher

    Here’s my take: the film seems to be catching on with people (at least that i’ve spoken to) who don’t usually go to the movies and may have never used FANDANGO. After all, would FANDANGO have predicted the huge success of PASSION OF THE CHRIST? No. Because people who went to see that were 80 year old grandmas and Catholic priests, hardly the types who go to the cinema every weekend. I don’t think it matters what the percentage is. I think the consensus seems to be a $20 to $30 million opening. It had less than a $40 million budget.

    I think this one will do well.

    As for the trolls, they have an unhealthy love for all things THE SOCIAL NETWORK since they can’t seem to stop talking about it. They are weird.

  • Rich S.

    We’re coming up on Halloween and in addition to The Social Network there are two big horror films coming out this weekend (one of which is sitting at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes). What is there to explain?


    A lot of poeple are D.Z-ing on this site when it comes to this movie.

  • George Prager

    Hunter Tremayne is Ian Sinclair. Here’s an example of his clairvoyance:

    Ian Sinclair says …

    I would imagine the charming and delightful ENCHANTED would look a pretty good option on the ballot box if the other pictures are the grim THERE WILL BE BLOOD, AMERICAN GANGSTER, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and ATONEMENT. If it does gangbuster business it could easily capture a PGA nod which will help it. Of course, BEOWULF is the must-see picture of the season, and will take a huge chunk of change out of ENCHANTED’s potential box office.

    Posted by Ian Sinclair at November 5, 2007 6:41 AM

  • Been listening to the soundtrack for most of the day. the NIN site has it for download for 5 bucks and a nice clip from the movie I had not seem before.

    Cannot wait to see this thing. Besides this and Inception I doubt I see anymore films in the theater this year.


  • MechanicalShark

    Who buys tickets in advance? I’ve only ever done that for IMAX, where there’s a real danger of it being sold out. But then, every multiplex in my area has ENORMOUS THEATERS. There’s never any danger a showing will be sold out.

  • Mark

    Also caught WS2 last night. Seriously had a great time making fun of the entire slog throughout. There may be a decent movie hidden in there, but jeez, Stone is throwing a lot of shit against the wall to see what sticks. (And someone cut his graphic design budget; so many wasted man hours.)

    Two things stuck out; 1) inexcusable not to end it on the street. 2) Mulligan is done. She cornered the market on young innocent that is wronged and sadly stands with teary puppy dog eyes. That market is officially over. She’ll be on strictly British productions or cable TV in 2 years.

  • actionman

    $15 million opening/$50 million domestic. Tops. Doesn’t mean it won’t be a brilliant movie.

  • LicentiousMaximus

    imagineUtopia23, the entire soundtrack is for sale at Amazon for $2.99 today and doing brisk business. My guess is the 20 somethings who usually download movies for free but are planning on paying to see this probably draw the line at buying tickets in advance. This generation doesn’t plan ahead(seriously, why bother at this point) and takes it as it comes. I still expect high 20’s.


  • K. Bowen

    The Social Network …. have you mentioned this film before, Jeff?

  • Orotund Vowel

    I work with a lot of young people as well as folk of my own generation; no one is really talking about this movie in my circles. Aside from a film student pal, I know not a single person feeling a sense of urgency for this picture.

    I don’t have any deeper insights for you. That’s just the way it seems to me.

    My son-in-law is an executive with a national movie theater chain and he says they aren’t sure how this is going to play out either. His bet is it will do average business at best unless word of mouth is very strong.

    We’ll see.

  • York “Budd” Durden

    If it’s as good as everyone’s saying, of course it’ll under perform. To use Jeff’s spot-on analogy, when do the gorillas get behind something that’s got the slightest bit of intelligence and artistry behind it? Never.

  • buckzollo

    TSN will have legs based on strong word of mouth. People are saying “I don’t want/need to see a/the Facebook movie” because they don’t know what they aren’t seeing. Tis possible to not like or be over FB and still like and or love this movie.

  • drbob

    My guess – it’s a great movie about a subject nobody cares about. It’s not even about a topic people should care about, ala The Hurt Locker, or Sicko. Nobody cares about Facebook. Nobody even likes Facebook. We tolerate it because there is no better option and if we left we would be disconnected from our social networks. But, Facebook is buggy, riddled with viruses, and generally a poor product.

  • moviesquad

    Everyone I’ve talked to about this says… “The Facebook Movie? Why would I want to see that. I’m on Facebook all day as it is, and I’ve got no interest in watching a movie about it.”

  • Robert Cashill

    I don’t blame Mulligan for MONEY’s failure but after some teary assignments time to let the sunshine in, or kick butt in an action movie.

  • Alan Cerny

    The movie’s about Facebook, but it’s not really “about” Facebook. I wish the naysayers would understand that. Just like CITIZEN KANE isn’t really about the newspaper business or ZODIAC, to use a Fincher film, isn’t really about the Zodiac killings.

  • Orotund Vowel

    “The movie’s about Facebook, but it’s not really “about” Facebook.”

    I think everyone understands that, but neither is it really the point. Average folk not only think it’s about Facebook, they can pretty much prove it.

    The movie’s premise carries no heat, no jazz. In the middle of a recession, America is asked to consider a movie about a child who forgets million dollar checks under a candy bar (the most widely shown ad in my area, anyway). There is a discomfort among many people already about why they weren’t smart enough or lucky enough to succeed this way. And the icing on the cake is this guy is a real prick, too. Wow, can’t wait to see it. Wait, there’s more. If everyone raves about it and flocks to the theater, it will add to Zuckerberg’s hubris and sense of entitlement.

    I am not trying to disparage this movie at all. I’m sure it’s brilliant. But I am baffled that anyone would think this anything other than a hard sell to Joe Six-pack.

  • Josh Massey

    “when do the gorillas get behind something that’s got the slightest bit of intelligence and artistry behind it? Never.”

    So are you forgetting Inception, or willfully ignoring it because it refutes your point?

  • Mark

    I saw Zodiac, and it is in fact about the Zodiac killings. Unquestionably.

  • Rothchild

    Orotund Vowel thinks we’re talking about Middle Men.

  • The Thing


    Inception was a summer action movie. It had explosions, guns, and fist fights. That drew in the gorillas. The well executed shots and high-concept ideas drew in the film critics and intellectuals. Everyone walked away pretty happy afterward. It succeeded because it was artsy and fun.

    As for The Social Network, a lot of my friends didn’t really have an interest in seeing it. The most common argument is that they “don’t want to see a movie about Facebook”. Of course, I turn around and tell them that the critics love it and they start to investigate. I’m sure that it’ll pull mid-20’s (I’m guessing $23-25 million), it’ll sustain high-teens, low-20’s ($18-21 million) through word of mouth

  • Alan Cerny

    Oh, I know it’s a hard sell. In fact, it doesn’t bother me that Joe Six-Pack may avoid the movie in droves; wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. What’s disconcerting is film fans like most of us posting and reading here dismissing the movie.

    I’ve seen THE SOCIAL NETWORK and I can tell you it’s not boring. It’s really freaking funny at times, it’s well-acted and directed, Sorkin’s script pops, and I think if people gave it a chance they’d figure out it’s not as much work as it seems to be. I’m not sure if it’s the best film of the year yet (INCEPTION had me reeling for days) but it’s definitely up there. I just want to see it do well because smarter movies wouldn’t suck right now. But if film fanatics like many of us can’t get behind it because of the subject, well, that’s unfortunate. But I’m sure most everyone here will see it, and probably enjoy it. Most of the naysayers here are probably saying it to get under Jeffrey’s skin, which while I love the film, I wholeheartedly support.

  • Mark

    “So are you forgetting Inception, or willfully ignoring it because it refutes your point?”

    The original framing of the point was misguided. It shouldn’t be framed as some sort of intellectual warfare. Audiences will always support great looking people in expensive clothes that shoot big guns; whether aimed at the A students or the C students. The question is whether they will support a dialogue-driven movie about nerds in Adidas flipflops.

  • Orotund Vowel

    Rothchild said “Orotund Vowel thinks we’re talking about Middle Men.”

    Wouldn’t that be something? Let’s hope it has a better fate.

  • York “Budd” Durden

    Josh, I didn’t think Inception was particularly intelligent, only a more densely layered 007 actioner with a hard-to-but central conceit. It’s full of gunplay and movement and loud noises. Of course it was a hit.

  • York “Budd” Durden


  • LexG

    Hey, MIDDLE MEN was terrific. And with Social Network sporting a PUSSY-ASS PG-13 rating despite being a movie about pussy, coke and banging hot chicks, I’m pretty sure there won’t be anything in it as core and awesome as that bit in Middle Men where Luke Wilson busts into some orgy laying people out while Moby’s BODYROCK plays.


  • reverent and free

    It’s been interesting the way it’s been marketed. The trailer sells it as Oscar bait, and as a timeless drama, not too technical for the older audiences. The TV spots have been trying to sell it as a hip, fun “21” type picture, aiming for the younger crowd. The thing it has going for it is universally good reviews, and younger viewers don’t have anything else to see other than Let Me In. Older viewers don’t have anything to see either, other than The Town and Wall Street if they missed them. Also, it’s only a $50 million picture.

    Secretariat ought to do very well next week, as the only family film in sight, but with enough serious actors in it that it won’t be just a family picture.

  • DiscoNap

    It’s getting beat by Let Me In. I don’t see how that doesn’t happen.

  • LexG

    Again for the cheap seats, Paramount’s otherwise idiotic choice to drop CASE 39 this weekend (up against another, better creepy kid movie) will achieve ONE thing: It’s gonna suck some serious money out of BOTH TSN and Let Me In’s potential weekend hauls.

    It might’ve been a TSN 20 mil weekend, Let Me In 15 mil weekend…

    But Case 39 is gonna do at least 10, 12, and that’s all money that otherwise would’ve gone to the other two movies.

    CASE 39: The Ralph Nader of movies.

  • joe banks

    “Scott Zuckerberg v. Harvard”

    maybe they should have sneaked it at Comi-Con

  • Kakihara

    “Answer: the lowbrow sector is unsure, skeptical, holding back, a little intimidated, not sensing that “olly, olly, in come free” emotional commonality thing.”

    Considering the successful low-brow crap Timberlake used to represent, I doubt that’s the problem. I’m guessing they’re thinking, “Why pay for a movie version of something they can do for free or read about at home?” Not to mention it seems like an extended episode of The Big Bang Theory with more curse words. Plus, as Lex noted, maybe they should’ve gone for some nudity? Those types of college films tend to do better. Oh, and, as I pointed out earlier, it was pretty dumb to release it in October when it’s up against Let Me In.

    “I don’t mean to sound snide, but how else to explain a projection in the low 20s?”

    Perhaps they asked a sample of Facebook users and then multiplied it wrong? Sort of like how they tried to inflate Comic Con attendance in determining Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim sales?

    dog: POTC was a “fuck Michael Moore and anyone against Bush” kind of movie, though. TSN does not appear to have the same momentum in the other direction. On the positive, though, it appears to have a smaller budget than WS2, so it can’t go broke.

    Josh: Don’t forget The American.

    Mark: Zodiac’s problem was non-Maggie Gyllenhaal is not a draw. FB’s problem is no one knows Eisenberg outside of that zombie movie they saw a year ago. And even then, they still can’t tell him apart from Baruchel, Cera, and that dude playing Kick-Ass.

    “Audiences will always support great looking people in expensive clothes that shoot big guns; ”

    So explain The Losers and A-Team.

  • brad

    This is a film that the journos and industry people like, which rarely translates into money. On the other side, Transformers 2, universally panned by almost every critic made an enormous amount of money.

    Most people are not at all persuaded to see a film based on the word of mouth of critics, or by the pedigree of the film makers. Film lovers are perhaps persuaded to follow pedigrees or critics, but there are not enough of us to make large bank for these films. I would not predict large takes for TSN, or specially long play.

  • DiscoNap

    It made be the Nyquil talking, but pretty much everything DZ just said made sense.

  • Michael Bay’s America didn’t turn out to see a movie about a socially-awkward ultra-nerd getting into video-game martial-arts duels; what makes anyone think they’ll turn out to see another socially-awkward ultra-nerd write code and get sued?

    Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim and now this. For whatever reason, this year Joe Twelve-Pack has his knives out for hyper-intelligent “new-school” stories and the “type” of characters that tend to inhabit them – it’s like the Tea Party, but for moviegoing and even more infused with anti-intellectualism. It’s a BAD year to have money behind a movie with an even vaugely “geek” hero.

  • Eloi Wrath

    MovieBob: Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim just weren’t very good. It’s not a backlash against intellectual filmmaking. Inception was smarter than the pair of them and it was a huge hit. Kick-Ass: intellectual? Really? It wasn’t. It was a sarcastic spoof with a few high points, but ultimately became exactly the same as what it was parodying.

  • Sams

    It’s problematic because what should be the core group for Social Network is largely the crowd that loves to do everything online including buy movie tickets. Although some may balk at having to pay an addition $2+- to Fandango.

    Perhaps its biggest hurdle is that its a pure drama. It doesn’t have Inception’s game-like elements and CGI. Or The Blind Side’s feel-good story and comedic elements. Or even Robin Hood’s pomp and spectacle. Pure dramas just don’t bring in much.

  • Eloi,

    I’m not talking about the intellectual merit of the actual films here – even “Social Network” isn’t exactly “A Brief History of Time” when you get right down to it.

    I’m talking about the growingly-apparent “backlash” against all things “nerd” – whether it be material from the outer-edges of nerd-culture like “Kick-Ass” or material that’s nerd-centric on a story/character level like “Pilgrim” or “Social Network.”

    This whole country is in the middle of a massive flare-up of outright anti-intellectualism, represented most-vocally by the “Tea Party” but cropping up in all areas, and “nerd hate” is the foundational evolutionary state of anti-intellectualism.

  • raquelswell

    For those of us who are Fincher fans that had doubts about this project the moment it arrived on the launch pad, this is kind of expected.

    Maybe the glowing reviews will capture the older crowd. I’d be shocked if teens, women and the early 20s crowd make a bee line for it on opening day and thereafter.

  • The Thing


    I’m not sure what’s going on. Recently, I found myself agreeing Lex, and now DZ has something reasonable and intelligent to say. TSN should be market as a film to turn the world upside and make everyone sane.


    Kick-Ass was Watchmen-lite. It was fun and sarcastic, but it also had the most realistic view of what a real-life superhero would be like (even more realistic than Watchmen, although that’s debatable). It definitely had it’s moments of intelligence and depth, but it never really sustained it.

    And Scott Pilgrim was a great film. Whether you like Michael Cera or not, it was incredibly well written and a very in-depth exploration of relationships both for the late-teen, early-twenty crowd, but also people of any age. The idea of dealing with the baggage of your significant other is relevant to people of any age.

    Yes, Inception was very intelligent, and much more of a high-concept idea than either of those 2 films. But each film does have something important to say, and they shouldn’t be discredited because of that.

    MovieBob is 100% right. Movies that feature nerds just don’t make money. It’s not just in modern times – look at the history of all nerd-hero movies. They were flops at the box office (I’m sure there might be one that breaks the rule here and there, but overall, they don’t sell tickets). It’s especially prevalent in recent years because Hollywood sees the success of comic book heroes, and believe this success will translate to these films. So, they’ve been pumping more of these out.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. These are niche films aimed at a niche market. They aren’t going to make $75 million domestic; they’re lucky if they break $30 million. They just don’t appeal to most people.

  • reverent and free

    D, actually, I’m not sure how well sexed and skinned up college films aimed for the Lexes of this world do. Unless I’m mistaken, the last college movie to be a hit was the PG-13 rated, with shoulders-up-sex scenes, 21. By contrast, the remake of Friday the 13th last year was at softcore levels, but dropped after a good opening weekend. Sorority Row didn’t do well at all.

    Thing, there’s of course the major exception of Superbad, which grossed almost $170 million worldwide.

  • citizenmilton

    I’m predicting $125m domestic.

    just sayin’ so I can link back to this comment when I’m proven right.

    (and hoping the comment fades into obscurity in case I’m not 🙂

  • Kakihara

    Bob: “it’s like the Tea Party, but for moviegoing and even more infused with anti-intellectualism. ”

    Actually, I think the problem with the geek movies is that they’re like the Tea Party, desperate for attention, but not quite able to connect with the average Joe and Jane.

    The Thing: “but it also had the most realistic view of what a real-life superhero would be like”

    Not really. Realistic is like when Robin got blown up by the Joker in that special Batman. The characters in Kick-Ass still get through pretty easily. But that’s not K-A’s problem. It pretty much came off average for the genre. It’s like, the only difference between it any other generic action movie was the use of costumes.

    “Movies that feature nerds just don’t make money.”

    Not entirely true. See Revenge of the Nerds and Napoleon Dynamite. Dunno if I’m willing to count Transformers, though. But I think a better argument is that movies which rely on nerd in-jokes don’t make money.

    reverent: 21 was a heist movie with college characters. Not the same thing. I’m talking about shit like Van Wilder. Absolutely lazy comedy, but the promise of T&A insured it broke even.

    “By contrast, the remake of Friday the 13th last year was at softcore levels, but dropped after a good opening weekend. ”

    The remake of Friday the 13th still made enough bank for its budget that it doesn’t matter if it dropped. And it’s not unusual that many horror flicks open big and drop. As for Sorority Row, I don’t think most people even knew it was out. And Superbad did what it did, because the emphasis in the marketing was on teen sex comedy, not nerdy guys talking about or engaging in their hobbies for 90 minutes.

  • Noah Cross

    “Realistic is like when Robin got blown up by the Joker in that special Batman.”

    So what is fantasy again?

  • JChasse

    “So what is fantasy again?”

    A certain someone’s projected “Avatar” grosses.

  • The Thing


    “Realistic is like when Robin”

    (SPOILERS, for those who care) I think the fact that Nicolas Cage is burned alive and ends up dieing is enough reason to see the film, and to destroy your argument. Also, the first fight Kick-Ass gets in, he gets stabbed then hit by a car and nearly dies. But I do agree to the fact that it was fun, but nothing too great.

    “See Revenge of the Nerds and Napoleon Dynamite”

    But those, along with Superbad, are just classic 80’s revenge flicks, who just happen to star nerds. And I do agree – nerd in-jokes don’t sell well with the general population. Which is my original argument – that these are niche films for a niche audience, and those who think they’ll make a ridiculous amount of money are ridiculous themselves. Hell, even Tron didn’t make a lot of money.

  • brad

    Basically there is an anti-elitist tide going on, a tide against the wealthy and highly educated. This film represents both of these things. It is quite possible that few people outside of this circle, or pedigree film fans, are really interested in this, and the techno angle of this film likely disenfranchises a lot of older highly educated wealthy people.

    Thing is correct, you should not expect it to make a lot of money, but this thread was started by Wells discussing the numbers, and this is surely a niche film.

    There has been this increasing trend from journos to talk about movie box office the past, not sure, decade or so? When it comes down to it, why do people really even care what “X” movie makes at the box office? Why did ET or any other show report the box office top 10? The Joe public really does not care about critics / journo reviews or about box office take. For that matter most people do not care about awards either, so all the talk about this being the “best movie of the year” or Oscar bait is again, irrelevant. The string of Oscar Winning this or that that were really NOT the best have really increased over the years, and the few people that actually watch the OSCARS watch it for celebrity gazing, and not the awards themselves.

  • Noah Cross

    Just as the Oscars are called the Gay Superbowl, Monday box office reports are like baseball box scores for nerds.

  • leonwang